CD Reviews

Janet Jackson Proves She Still Has It

10/5/2015 10:45am EDT
Janet Jackson, Unbreakable © Rhythm Nation / BMG
There used to be a time when a new Janet Jackson album was “kind of a big deal.” Since the infamous Super Bowl incident in 2004, things cooled off for “Miss Jackson.” Sure, she continued to have chart-topping albums, but arguably, they failed to have staying power beyond the initial buzz. Whether or not Jackson’s comeback album Unbreakable can “get past this hump” to quote Erykah Badu is debatable, but her first LP in seven years is definitely worth listening to.

“Unbreakable” commences Unbreakable exceptionally, sounding vintage. Jackson sounds best on the chorus, where her upper-regi...

Fetty Wap Has Arrived, How Does His Debut Album Stack Up?

9/30/2015 11:30am EDT
Review: Fetty Wap Shows Promise On Self-Titled Debut Album
Perhaps had Future not arrived before him, the views on rap newcomer Fetty Wap would be different. Future and Fetty Wap aren’t “one and the same,” but there are some clear similarities. Both rappers incorporate more pitch into their respective flows, at times nearly sounding like singers as opposed to rappers. This was off-putting about Future early in his career, but he’s definitely grown on the detractors. This quasi-rap/sung approach is definitely part of the allure of Fetty Wap. His debut album Fetty Wap isn’t ‘the second coming’ by any means, but there’s clearly something there with...

How Good Is Drake And Future’s Collaboration 'What A Time To Be Alive'?

9/28/2015 11:30am EDT
Six Takeaways From Drake And Future’s ‘What A Time To Be Alive’
On Sunday, September 21, Drake and Future gave the music industry a gift – a collaborative mixtape. Two of the biggest triumphs in 2015 have come at the hands of Drake and Future. Future’s DS2 didn’t come anywhere close to Drake’s numbers with If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, but the rapper had the biggest debut of his career and scored his first number one album. Furthermore with their respective albums, the two MCs have had some staying power on the charts. This makes a collaborative mixtape something of a godsend, hence the gargantuan numbers.

Rather than your standard album...

Lana Del Rey Keeps Things Dark And Mysterious On 'Honeymoon'

9/23/2015 10:24am EDT
Lana Del Rey, Honeymoon © Interscope
Honestly, it doesn’t seem like alternative pop singer/songwriter Lana Del Rey is going to be changing anytime soon. On her latest album Honeymoon, her idea of a honeymoon definitely doesn’t match up with the happy occasion in which newlyweds partake of. But this is Lana Del Rey, who has embraced darkness on previous albums as well as the media. With the modus operandi well established, Honeymoon does end up being a sound addition to her discography, even if it isn’t absent of flaws.

“Honeymoon” initiates the effort mysteriously, characterized by its haunting strings. Once Del Rey ente...

Music Review: What Are Our Thoughts On Mac Miller’s ‘GO:OD AM’?

9/21/2015 3:10pm EDT
Review: Mac Miller Steps Up His Game (And Swag) on ‘GO:OD AM’
“I killed the game like Jeffrey Dahmer did the 80s.” Phew – it takes some serious confidence, better yet swag to deliver a punch like that one. Of course, who has more swag or confidence than Pittsburgh rapper Mac Miller? Throughout the course of his third full-length album GO:OD AM, Miller shows he’s got the swag locked down without question.

Following tone-setting intro “Doors,” “Brand Name,” produced by ID Labs features lush, soulful production, sampling Northern soul singer J.J. Barnes. Unapologetic, Mac Miller goes onto a lyrical tear early on with the usual crude punch lines: “W...

How Does Gary Clark, Jr.'s 'The Story Of Sonny Boy Slim' Stack Up?

9/16/2015 9:19am EDT
Review: Gary Clark, Jr. Shows His Versatility On ‘The Story Of S
Who’s one of the hottest guitarists of the new generation? Why that ladies and gents is none other than Gary Clark, Jr. Is Clark, Jr. a household name? Not quite, but early into his career, he’s already won a Grammy! One thing’s for sure is that Clark, Jr. is a magnificent musician, something that he shows throughout the course of his second major label album, The Story of Sonny Boy Slim.

Clark Jr. kicks off The Story of Sonny Boy Slim soundly with “The Healing.” Initiating with a traditional gospel song, soon “The Healing” erupts into a bluesy, soulful joint. Expectedly, Clark Jr. keeps...

How Does Brett Eldredge's New Album 'Illinois' Stack Up?

9/14/2015 11:03am EDT
Review: Brett Eldredge Delivers A Compelling Sophomore Album On
A musician’s debut album is an important ‘stepping stone’ within their career. That could be said of country musician Brett Eldredge, who first appeared on the scene in 2013 with debut effort Bring You Back. Still, it seems like the Illinois-bred Eldredge’s sophomore album titled after his home state may be a more substantial stepping stone. Is Illinois Eldredge’s breakthrough moment? Quite possibly as Eldredge proves he ‘has the goods’ on album number two.

“Fire” initiates Illinois ferociously, with Eldredge asserting himself from the jump. Captivating the listener’s attention, Eldr...

Review: Check Out Our Thoughts On Travi$ Scott’s 'Rodeo'

9/11/2015 9:21am EDT
Review: Travi$ Scott Takes Listeners On A Wasted Trip On 'Rodeo'
As the old saying goes, “not everything that glitters is gold.” The same can be applied to a new album – sometimes they’re exceptional while other times they are a mixed bag or abysmal to say the least. Rap newcomer Travi$ Scott’s new album Rodeo can be described as something of a mixed bag. There is plenty of potential, particularly considering Scott’s status as a Kanye West disciple, but Rodeo also has its fair share of flaws. Ultimately, it’s a “wasted trip” – no not the time it takes to listen, but rather the references to various substances.

When an album starts off with a song e...

Troye Sivan Is Back With 2nd Album 'Wild'

9/9/2015 11:15am EDT
Review: Troye Sivan Delivers A Captivating Sophomore EP On ‘Wild
He’s back! Who you ask? Oh, that “Youthful Alt-Pop Warrior” Troye Sivan. Sivan is a popular YouTube personality who’s also and actor and musician. After captivating the world once before with his debut EP TRYXE back in 2014, Sivan returns for EP number two, Wild. Is there any drop-off between efforts one and two? Nope – Sivan delivers a captivating sophomore EP by all means with no questions asked!

“Wild” is slickly produced, embracing a mix of alt- and urban-pop. While the jury may be out as to whether “Wild” is a hit or not, “Wild” possesses enough of a commercial sensibility to pote...

'Live In Cuba' Is A Tour De Force That Should Have All Jazz Fans Excited

9/2/2015 10:13am EDT
Review: Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra And Wynton Marsalis Shi
What better way to celebrate a new record label (Blue Engine Records) than to drop a hot new album? Why, there’s no better way of course! The Jazz At Lincoln Center Orchestra has been a hot commodity for years and years for good reason – it’s an exceptional collective of truly prodigious musicians without question. The already ferocious jazz orchestra gets even fiercer with Wynton Marsalis joining for the musical party. Can you say epic?

“Epic” is certainly the best way to describe the orchestra’s live two-disc album, Live In Cuba, which was recorded in 2010. If there was some jazz defi...